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Why You Should Quit Smoking from a Physiotherapist

On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. The health risk associated with smoking are well documented; it can cause cancers, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung disease and more. But the lesser-known effects relate to the musculoskeletal system- this article outlines four of them, as defined by a physio.  

1. Smoking may reduce bone mineral density

Bone mineral density refers to the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue. This measure provides a snapshot of your bone health, and offers insight into your susceptibility for osteoporosis, fractures, and other conditions. Smoking is associated with a greater loss of bone mineral density, particularly in menopausal women. Those who currently smoke or previously smoked show a lower bone density than those who have never smoked.  

2. Smoking may increase the risk of chronic back pain

Daily smoking may contribute to chronic back pain, particularly in young adults. Research shows that the more cigarettes a person smokes, the more likely they are to develop low back pain. It also suggests that if a person smokes nine cigarettes per day, then their pain is more likely to become persistent and ongoing.  

3. Smoking can inhibit healing  

Smokers are at a higher risk of wound complications and infections following surgery compared to non-smokers. Research into the complication risk associated with knee and hip replacement surgery demonstrated that current and former smokers have an increased total complication risk.  Furthermore, following a fracture, spinal fusion, osteotomy, arthrodesis, or treatment of non-union, smokers have twice the risk of a non-union, meaning they do not heal properly. Ultimately, healing times are longer for smokers compared to non-smokers.  

4. Smoking may contribute to risk of pelvic organ prolapse  

A study examined the prevalence pelvic organ prolapse in women who had not yet given birth. The results showed that smokers had a 28% prevalence, compared to non-smokers that had a prevalence of 12%.  

Smoking from a Physio Perspective

This article shows that in addition to causing serious health problems like cancer and lung disease, smoking also impacts the musculoskeletal system. There is no denying that smoking has negative health effects, and quitting is recommended. If you’re a regular smoker, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept these conditions as inevitable. In fact, the body begins to heal when you quit. Lowered blood pressure can be observed almost immediately.

Your physiotherapist can refer you to resources to support your quitting journey. They follow the AAH model. The AAH model is divided into three steps: 

ASK – physiotherapists can screen for issues with smoking. 

ADVISE – physios can offer advice and information about seeking help and quitting. 

HELP– the practitioner can then link their patient with a helpline or smoking cessation specialist. 

Book your physiotherapy appointment

A physiotherapist can support your quitting journey. You should not be afraid to discuss your quitting plans as you will be met by encouragement and help. If you want to quit smoking, you’re not alone. Currently, 75% of smokers want to quit, and with appropriate advice and support, you can.

Book your appointment at Northern Districts Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic with one of our friendly and experienced practitioners today.  

CALL 02 9874 8410    BOOK ONLINE

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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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